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Boundary Disputes: Frequent Questions

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 1 Apr 2020 | comments*Discuss
 
Neighbour Boundary Dispute Trees Fence

We often hear about boundary disputes between neighbours, and it’s a very contentious area which is often the subject of litigation.

What is a Boundary and How is it Defined?

A boundary between your property and your neighbours (or indeed council and common land) is usually set out in the earliest conveyance deed or transfer deed that refers to the land. If you own the house, you should have been given a copy of the deeds when you bought the property.

The deeds show the boundaries of the land that the person who sold the property to you was intending to sell. The description could be written into the deeds, or most usually described by a visual plan of the land.

Sometimes the plan and the wording of the deeds might differ, but this problem can usually be resolved. Reading the deeds and looking at the plan will give you an indication of which takes precedence, and if it’s not obvious, a solicitor can usually help.

If either the conveyance plan or the words in the deed are obviously inaccurate, this can cause problems, too. If you have any questions, a solicitor can usually help, although in some cases these cases have to be resolved in court.

Establishing Rights Over Hedges and Fences can often be the source of bad feeling between otherwise friendly neighbours.

Can I Paint my Neighbours Fence?

If you want to change anything about a fence that legally belongs to your neighbour, you should ask their permission first – even if you’re only painting or staining your side of the fence.

Your neighbour is perfectly within his or her rights to tell you that he doesn’t want you to paint the fence, even if in your opinion in sorely needs some tidying up. It could be classed as criminal damage if you were to carry on regardless.

Can I Force My Neighbour to repair a Damaged Fence?

Not usually, unless there is some kind of covenant on his property that forces the issue. If the state of his fence is bothering you or causing security issues, there is no reason why you shouldn’t erect a fence of your own next to it.

You could offer to pay for the repairs yourself, if the neighbour simply can’t afford the repairs. If you do this, be sure to put the offer in writing and say that fence is a gift which doesn’t affect the boundary position at all. Keep a copy of your letter with the title deeds, to avoid any boundary confusion in the future.

If you put your own fence up on your own land, you need to be careful not to damage any of your neighbour's property, and make sure it fits in with all the relevant planning permission and byelaws.

Overhanging Trees

Another contentious area between neighbours is the problem of overhanging trees and Ascertaining Your Rights. What seemed like an average sized tree when you moved in could become a nuisance if it grows tall enough to block out your light, and this could mean that you have problems with your own garden as well as reducing the light in the house. You can’t do much about it until the trees start to encroach onto your land, though.

What to Do About Nuisance Trees

If the branches or roots of your neighbour's trees are starting to encroach onto your own land, you are allowed to trim them back to your own boundary.

You don’t have to tell your neighbour that you’re doing this, although you do have to tell them if you need to gain Access To Their Land. Contrary to popular belief, you can also trim a tree that’s subject to a preservation order, although you should get permission from your local authority first.

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We have a large Monterey Cypress tree in our garden approx 22.5 meters high. The roots have grown over the years and have now encroached and lifted the boundary fence of our neighbours' property. Our neighbour has got a solicitor letter and demanded that we cut the whole tree down including digging out the roots and then replacing his fence panels.Is there any way we can protect our beautiful tree from being felled?
Luki - 1-Apr-20 @ 2:26 AM
There was a comment on the 21st Jan@ 7.192020 from "seriously fed up neighbour" about boundary disputes, which I was very interested in, but need to know more about as in similar position. Is it possible to expand on what people can do if a neighbour encroaches on to your property, without your permission and refuses to speak or respond to written correspondence and has sent a message through tradespeople who carried out the encroachment on neighbours behalf that Adverse Possession is planned. Also harassment involved. Similar situation, worried to death about cost, as o.a.p.The situation began in Oct. 2018. I have already obtained the "Initial report", have had solicitor write to the neighbour , but neighbour avoided responding to boundary situation and trespass and concentrated on the woes of having neighbours like me. Am I correct in believing that once I have Court Prepared Report done, I can get a solicitor to write to said neighbour, give 14 days that encroachments will be moved etc. Any other information is gratefully received. I have been told that when an encroachment takes place, if you write to the neighbour every 10 years objecting to the encroachment, adverse possession cannot take place but if selling it can still affect value of property. Does anyone know if this is the case? It has to be done properly, and best done through solicitor. Proof required. Have also heard that after so many years that, something like 20 years, time runs out and neighbour cannot re-apply. Would anyone be able to elaborate on this?. These situation can seriously damage your health. Cheers
The donkey's bolted - 20-Mar-20 @ 6:29 PM
I had some old stable buildings which was adjacoint to my neibours farm track and field. the buildings where damaged during a storm, roof of and walls came crashing down. I made a planning appliction to rebuild, on the same foot print and have done so. howwever, we need to have access to next doors field to put up the guttering. As a note the first two feet of the land is mine anyway, but he agrues that point and conciddering we both own 20 arches of filed adjoitning each other im not fussed. I do not cncidder this to be a new building as it is build in the original foundations and foot print. was the work nessacary yes it fell down, am I covered under the accessing neibours land act.?
David - 8-Mar-20 @ 9:53 AM
Hi, I moved into my house on Aug 23rd 2019. immediately upon moving in I started to complete my snagging list. The very first thing I noticed was That the boundary between me and my neighbours curved so significantly, that it appeared that my neighbours garden was right under my front window, I mentioned this to my neighbours and told them that I was querying the boundary.I consulted my disposition and title deeds to discover that this appeared to be quite significantly wrong. I have consulted with the developers who have confirmed that the boundary hedge is indeed wrong by about a meter width along the length of the garden. They have since tried to approach my neighbours to let them know that they planned to rectify this. Neighbours response was to discuss this through their lawyers. Do I have access to what I have been told is my land whilst this goes on?, the neighbours are treating it as theirs. Measurements were taken and the actual correctboundary was pegged out and marked on the adjoining pedestrian walkway. these marks and pegs have been since removed by the neighbours. I am having my garden landscaped for the spring, getting quotes and planning what I need.I obviously need to include all my garden in this. what are my options.? Please helphighly stressed and frustrated.
baldtalon - 17-Feb-20 @ 12:32 PM
i live in a townhouse with communal parking everyone double parks as they have 2 cars All was ok for the last 13 years as I only had 1 car, however my son recently turned 18 and I purchased him a car I am now having notes left on my sons car about parking everyone has a garage and a space and as I said everyone double parks so we have done the same but they don’t seem to like this even though there’s plenty of room. Any advice before I go to a solicitor I have tried talking and being nice but it’s all aimed at my son who they think they can bully
Parkingdiva - 6-Feb-20 @ 9:20 AM
Just want to give everyone here a little legal info. Not a solicitor but I've spent so much £££ on RICS surveyor and top notch solicitor on my ongoing boundary dispute, I've become an expert! Regardless on how long your neighbour has 'adversely possessed' your land unless they apply to the Land Registry to legally own it, it's still yours. Most websites state it does belong to your neighbour without them having to apply to LR .... trust me it doesn't until Land Registry give it to them! I quote "have been in possession of the land for at least 12 years prior to October 2003 AND have made an application to Land Registry for registration under paragraph 18 of Schedule 12 to the 2002 Act, or..... have been possession of the land for at least 10 years, have made an application to Land Registry for registration under paragraph 1 of Schedule 6 to the 2002 Act, notice of which is given to the registered proprietor who then has a period of 2 years from their objection to remove you". Land Registry plans give a general boundary, unfortunately you have to instruct a RICS surveyor to measure your legal / true boundary. I instructed ours to give us a Court Prepared Report - which delves into all historical documents / aerial photographs etc! Does cost more but if your dispute is as bad as mine, it's worth it! Don't just agree or stay quiet when your neighbour is doing something you believe is wrong, as they tend to take advantage of this! Stick to your guns, be strong and don't let them doing anything without you absolutely agreeing to it in writing. Also, send them registered letters - quoting 'without prejudice' with your concerns and / or you do not permit them to put anything up within your boundary. Anything within your legal boundary, you are within your rights to remove it. Best practice is to inform your neighbours that you will be doing so. ie give them 14 days notice in writingthrough a solicitor and as the police told me, this is sufficient to thereafter remove whatever they have erected within your land to remove & your neighbour cannot sue you for criminal damage - but do remove it with due care and record footage of you doing so. I could go on & on.... good luck everyone!
SeriouslyFedUpNeighb - 21-Jan-20 @ 7:19 PM
About gutter: our neighbor has built a new gutter recently. There is a 130 cm distance between my neighbor's house and our drive way. They changed the opening of the downspout extension to face our side. There is a 72 cm distance from the opening to their house and there is a 58 cm distance from the opening to our drive way. I have concerns that by having the opening facing our drive way, it might be easier for our drive way to be flooded. I don't know if one can have the opening of the gutter-downspout extension facing other people's property. I appreciate your advice. Thanks.
cat - 23-Oct-19 @ 3:34 AM
I need some help pleas we have lived in our concil flat 6 yrs we are lower flat the flat is privately owned we have just been informed that the new owner has suggested that the side of the house is shared and she wants access the side of the building is our entrance and gated and fenced with the concil permission as we have a dog we have spent lots of time effort money making it look lovely for someone to come along and demant half the garden in 6 yrs no one ie the council or the previous owner have ever mentioned that it's shared we have had 4 concil managers visit and have always said how lovely n private it is we were granted permission and that was that unroll now now the new owner is about to complete and has already complained to the council and the new housing manager has said we need to reapply forpermission as the fence is 6ft that's what we applied for now she saying it has to be lowered too four ft this also was never mentioned for the whole time until now she also said we now have togive the new owner access too the side of house can i get a copy of the boundaries and were do I get a copy frombecause I don't believe that it's in her deeds as I've asked to see paper work and nothingthe council land man is coming out to look at the property in the meantime can i do this independently as far as deeds and boundaries go were do I start please help thank you ana
ana - 11-Oct-19 @ 1:02 AM
Hi - bit of an odd one this - our cottage has a couple of ground-floor windows (non-opening with privacy glass) on our boundary wall which look into a neighbour’s garden area and are important for lighting our internal areas. Unfortunately the garden contains a hard standing area and our tenant neighbours have taken to parking a high-sided vehicle (Landcover Defender) against the window blocking a lot of the light for weeks on end. My wife, understandably, also finds this oppressive and an invasion of privacy as someone could conceivably sit in the vehicle and look into our cottage. Also, we can’t get to the window to clean it. The landlord is not interested in helping and the tenants say they can park where they like on their rented land. We are not sure what to do- the tenants have been a nuisance to us in other ways in the past but we managed to settle things amicably. This time they will not budge. We’ve taken some legal advice but it all seems to be a grey area. We could try for council mediation but are worried that if we go down this official route that we may not be able to sell the cottage later as this would be something we would legally have to disclose (or have we passed that point already?) Thanks for any advice.
Cottage Owner - 30-Jul-19 @ 12:47 PM
Hi - bit of an odd one this - our cottage has a couple of ground-floor windows (non-opening with privacy glass) on our boundary wall which look into a neighbour’s garden area and are important for lighting our internal areas. Unfortunately the garden contains a hard standing area and our tenant neighbours have taken to parking a high-sided vehicle (Landcover Defender) against the window blocking a lot of the light for weeks on end. My wife, understandably, also finds this oppressive and an invasion of privacy as someone could conceivably sit in the vehicle and look into our cottage. Also, we can’t get to the window to clean it. The landlord is not interested in helping and the tenants say they can park where they like on their rented land. We are not sure what to do- the tenants have been a nuisance to us in other ways in the past but we managed to settle things amicably. This time they will not budge. We’ve taken some legal advice but it all seems to be a grey area. We could try for council mediation but are worried that if we go down this official route that we may not be able to sell the cottage later as this would be something we would legally have to disclose (or have we passed that point already?) Thanks for any advice.
Cottage Owner - 29-Jul-19 @ 12:12 PM
Our neighbors are having a 4 metre extension built a fence post away from our house it’s being funded by the council l am totally opposed to it how do l protest as 4 metres us to large
None out - 28-Jun-19 @ 9:09 AM
We fell out with our neighbours about 14 years ago about damage to our car and the police were called. Since then we just don't speak. Last year they took out my fence panels that were old and raised the height with new ones by a foot. Without consulting us. I would like to paint the fence on my side to match the one at the bottom of my garden but even though it shows on the deeds that it's my fence they put in new wood. What can I do.
Susan - 24-Jun-19 @ 10:28 PM
Neighbour erected a 6' fence to his front boundary between our adjoining sitting room windows. No worries. Now he has strung fairy lights along the top and fixed a string of them to my side. They flash every night into my sitting room window. It is a deliberate action to antagonise me since I removed my lilac tree at that point to allow more light to my front garden plants after asking if they would please prune their holly to the height at which it was always kept by their predessessors and receiving several rude tirades, all seeking to intimidate me.May I remove the lights on my side and leave them to hang, working on their side? I can't speak to them as they have have spent 10yrs trying to cause trouble since I asked their daughter, then 8, to stop climbing into my rear garden to play!
QuietLife - 8-Jun-19 @ 2:12 PM
My neighbour - Landlord owned rented property asked us to pay towards cost of new fence fence was on their side of boundary wall which is a shared boundary (terraced house garden) we told them we don't have the money to help pay towards it, they said they would sue us ! Pretty sure we don't have to have a fence. They sent someone to remove broken fence who told me the wall was leaning and unstable, the boundary wall was built in 1860 and has been leaning the entire 22yrs I've lived here, I own my house. Anyway yesterday I saw new fence panels arrive and thought oh well they have decided to pay for and replace the fence, later I hear loud banging and look out to see they have removed the boundary wall! No agreement or notification with/from me to do so, the man doing it said it's falling down and would cost thousands to replace !!Surely they cannot remove the wall without agreement from me, worse the horrid tall fence they have now put up on the line where the lovely old boundary wall was ! I am fuming! What can I do?
Sam - 4-Jun-19 @ 6:55 PM
I have a back garden fence that has been damaged i have minor repaired iti cant afford to replace at min.i have recieved a letter from neighbour saying fence is on his side of boundry line ,the fence in question has been there 30 years longer than myself or my neighbour have lived here where do i stand
Dags - 17-May-19 @ 1:41 PM
I'm not too certain where to post about this but i guess this is the best i have been able to find, our neighbours did some work to their conservatory a couple months back which involved extending it out, when doing so we had explained they needed to leave some space for their own independant gully multiple times, however that information has gone ignored and instead they decided to have their gully come onto our land and go into our own gully, is their anything we can do about it? they didn't even repair the wall they took down to do this work, we are debating to just rebuild the wall ourselves and block off their gully they made that protrudes into our land, can anything go wrong with this?
Face-1 - 17-May-19 @ 11:00 AM
My new neighbour has mutilated our joining hedge, then left the trunks and part of hedge on my side with big holes in and put up a fence on her side. My deeds state that the side that we are responsible for the upkeep of that side of the garden. Has she broken the law as she has damaged the hedge and has told us if we touch the hedge we would get done for criminal damage.
Smash - 8-May-19 @ 10:33 PM
Hi, we are going through a really stressfull dispute with our neighbours and I'm probably clutching at straws here...but if the dispute case is started by a couple who split up and part during the dispute, can then one of them carry the dispute on or does it become 'void' ? (Probably a stupid and obvious question, to which I'm pretty sure I already know the answer to but just wanted to double check! sorry, just want this nightmare to end!)
JW - 27-Feb-19 @ 7:35 AM
We are currently having a joint wall and fence erected on our boundary wall paid for by both us and our neighbour. The neighbour wants the gap between batons on the fence a certain width, to match another fence they have which leaves little privacy. We would like to put batons on our side of the fence which would effectively fill in the gaps. Is this something we can do? Thanks
M - 5-Nov-18 @ 10:55 AM
Our next door neighbour has removed our chain link boundary fence without our permission. We have erected a wooden fence within our boundary covering the majority of the garden but there is a strip of some 5 metresbetween a side gateand shed where our oil tank used to sit.We now use this to store bins and garden tools etc but because he has removed the chain link stuff keeps falling onto his property which has made him very angry and abusive.Can we force him to re-instate the chain link as it was ours in the first place
gloworm53 - 1-Nov-18 @ 12:08 PM
marthamonkey - Your Question:
I bought a new fence last year and it was treated with stuff to maintain and protect it for the next 25 years.New neighbours next door have painted it their side even though its 2 inches within our border. Are they allowed to do this. they never even asked us if they could do this.

Our Response:
No, if it's your fence, your neighbour cannot attach anything to it or paint it.
ProblemNeighbours - 12-Sep-18 @ 10:41 AM
I bought a new fence last year and it was treated with stuff to maintain and protect it for the next 25 years.New neighbours next door have painted it their side even though its 2 inches within our border. Are they allowed to do this. they never even asked us if they could do this.
marthamonkey - 4-Sep-18 @ 5:05 PM
My new neighbour asked me to replace a fence i am responsible for and split the cost. I advised him that i couldn't afford this at the moment.He went ahead and got quotes and kept asking me over and over again for the money - I kept telling him i could not afford to replace the fence.During this time he has taken down the fence panel's and trellis and has damaged a lot of climbing plants. He didn't ask me for permission to do this. The concrete posts are still up but as they are not 100% straight couldn't be used for the type of fence my neighbour wants ( yes he is even expecting to have the fence of his choice!)Ihave now planted a laurel hedge inside my boundary but to grow instead of a fence. It's all i could afford to do. I have attached solar lights to the posts until the hedge matures( primarily so i can see them in the dark when i am reversing off thd drive). If my neighbour now tries to remove the fence posts what can i do? I find him intimidating and l am a single parent. I Have very limited funds and could not afford legal fees to sort this out.
Jazz - 27-Aug-18 @ 4:10 PM
My neighbour has planted shrubs against my boundary wall and tree about four inches from the wall. What are the minimum distances for planting.
Baz - 23-Aug-18 @ 6:13 AM
n/a - Your Question:
I've recently purchased a terrace house which had a garage in the back garden which due to it being dangerous we had removed. My next door neighbour also has a garage that takes up almost all of their garden and which crosses my boundary. The neighbour is demanding that I have a fence erected in my garden because they paid a lot of money for and that it wasn't built for my benefit. Does this mean the wall is a party wall and am I duty bound to do as they say? Your advice will be really appreciated.

Our Response:
We don't know enough about your property and whether the garages were there when the property was built or not etc. Please check your title deeds to see if there is anything that refers to a garage or to responsibility for erection/maintenance of a fence.
ProblemNeighbours - 14-Aug-18 @ 11:14 AM
I've recently purchased a terrace house which had a garage in the back garden which due to it being dangerous we had removed.. My next door neighbour also has a garage that takes up almost all of their garden and which crosses my boundary. The neighbour is demanding that I have a fence erected in my garden because they paid a lot of money for and that it wasn't built for my benefit. Does this mean the wall is a party wall and am I duty bound to do as they say? Your advice will be reallyappreciated.
n/a - 13-Aug-18 @ 7:17 PM
Whitty - Your Question:
We have lived in our property for 51 years. There is a fence on the boundary which we have paid for and maintained.new neighbours have purchased the next door property and verbally expressed their intention to build an extension over the boundary as he claims our drive is a few inches wider then theirs.can he force us to allow this ? The previous owners who have died never mentioned this nor did the new owners before they bought the property. We have not been approached by a surveyor to measure our property. I am rather elderly and this is making me ill. As if they move the fence it will further impeded poor access to our garage which is already difficult to back out of.

Our Response:
This doesn't sound correct. If your fence has been there for all the 51 years you've lived there, it's likely that it's (a) in correct position on the boundary line or (b) yours by virtue of adverse possession (you would need to speek to solicitor for details of how to apply for adverse possession. Your neighbour sounds like a bit of bully, talk to Citizens' Advice for more individual help.
ProblemNeighbours - 10-Aug-18 @ 3:07 PM
We have lived in our property for 51 years. There is a fence on the boundary which we have paid for and maintained.new neighbours have purchased the next door property and verbally expressed their intention to build an extension over the boundary as he claims our drive is a few inches wider then theirs.can he force us to allow this ? The previous owners who have died never mentioned this nor did the new owners before they bought the property. We have not been approached by a surveyor to measure our property. I am rather elderly and this is making me ill. As if they move the fence it will further impeded poor access to our garage which is already difficult to back out of.
Whitty - 10-Aug-18 @ 9:03 AM
Elyshe - Your Question:
HelloI would be grateful for your help. I’ve just moved into a semi detached house. There is a boundary wall in the front of the house and my neighbour has decided to erect a sandstone ornament on the wall. I approached the neighbour gently to ask if he wouldn’t mind not putting it on the boundary wall. He advised the wall was his so he could do what he wanted. I’ve looked at my title plan and there is no reference to who owns the wall. I have gone back to my conveyancer who acted on my sale because in her notes when I was buying the property it says I’m jointly responsible for maintaining this boundary wall. I’d like to be able to prove that he needs my permission to put this ornament on the joint boundary, but I’m not sure how I go about proving this. Pls can someone help - this ornament is ghastly, large and soon to be cemented to the wall!Thanks

Our Response:
It's worth checking all the documents that are held with your deeds as the title plan itself might not show sufficient information. You can obtain the title deeds from HM Land Registry for a small fee.
ProblemNeighbours - 7-Aug-18 @ 10:27 AM
Hello I would be grateful for your help. I’ve just moved into a semi detached house. There is a boundary wall in the front of the house and my neighbour has decided to erect a sandstone ornament on the wall. I approached the neighbour gently to ask if he wouldn’t mind not putting it on the boundary wall. He advised the wall was his so he could do what he wanted. I’ve looked at my title plan and there is no reference to who owns the wall. I have gone back to my conveyancer who acted on my sale because in her notes when I was buying the property it says I’m jointly responsible for maintaining this boundary wall. I’d like to be able to prove that he needs my permission to put this ornament on the joint boundary, but I’m not sure how I go about proving this. Pls can someone help - this ornament is ghastly, large and soon to be cemented to the wall! Thanks
Elyshe - 5-Aug-18 @ 4:18 AM
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